Subway Chicken is Less than 50 Percent Actual Chicken, Study Finds

subway chicken

Subway chicken strips contain an average of less than 50 percent chicken DNA, a new investigation carried out by CBC Marketplace found. Matt Harnden from Trent University’s Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory and his team of researchers tested the chicken strips from Subway’s Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich and Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki strips and found that they contain an average of 53.6 percent and 42.8 percent chicken DNA, respectively.

The remaining DNA in the chicken strips was mainly made up of soy, according to the researchers.

The study also tested chicken in four other sandwiches and wraps from chain restaurants in Petersborough, Ontario, including McDonald’s Country Grilled Chicken (84.9 percent chicken DNA), Tim Hortons Chipotle Chicken Grilled Wrap (86.5 percent), Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich (88.5 percent), and A&W Chicken Grill Deluxe (89.4 percent).

All processed chicken contains less than 100 percent chicken DNA due to the use of seasonings, marinades, and fillers. However, the disparity between the Subway chicken and the processed chicken from other vendors led the researchers to test the Subway chicken a second time to rule out experimental error.

Subway Canada replied to CBC Marketplace’s findings, noting it was “concerned by the alleged findings with respect to the soy content” of the chicken it sells and would verify the practices of its manufacturers. According to Subway, its chicken products contain less than one percent soy protein.

The researchers found that given the low percentage of chicken in Subway products, customers were actually consuming 25 percent less protein and seven to ten times more sodium than with unadulterated chicken. Fast food chicken products also contain corn syrup, corn starch, and dextrose, amongst other additives and flavorings.

In 2015, Subway announced that it would be transitioning away from antibiotics in its meat products as well as from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives in all of its menu items. The chain had already phased out azodicarbonamide, a common chemical used in shoe rubber and yoga mats, in 2014.

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Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco